Number of ‘coronation meadows’ marking queen’s reign tops 100
Wildflower meadows planted a decade ago to celebrate 60 years of the late queen’s reign have thrived, with 101 new fields of flowers created since the scheme was launched.
King Charles, then the Prince of Wales, worked with Plantlife and the Wildlife Trusts to launch ”coronation meadows”, identifying 60 species-rich meadows from which to take donor seeds – one meadow for each year of the queen’s reign at the time.
Charles has long had an interest in nature and the environment, but has recently been criticised for the management of land he owned on nature sites on Dartmoor.
Since the 1930s, 97% of Britain’s wildflower meadows have been lost as a result of farming and development. The charities created new meadows and restored old ones using seeds from remaining fragments of ancient and traditional meadows.
The seeds from the 60 meadows were used to increase the amount of wildflower habitat, which is crucial for pollinators as well as being valuable in its own right as it includes rare plant species.
A new audit of the project has found that 101 wildflower meadows have been created or restored, and they continue to expand as the charities harvest and spread the seeds in areas close to the original sites. The meadows have been found to benefit bees, butterflies, bats and birds.
Craig Bennett, the chief executive of the Wildlife Trusts, said: “The expansion of our beautiful wildflower meadows is a wonderful legacy for communities everywhere to enjoy. The magnificent sight of wild orchids shimmering in a field of delicate wild grasses in the afternoon sun to the hum of bees is something that everyone deserves to experience and enjoy.
“As the nature and climate crises deepen, we must be bold if we want to reverse declines and help revive our meadow heritage.”
He said ancient meadows had evolved alongside traditional farming methods over hundreds of years, and many of them had been designated as ‘local wildlife sites’ because of the rare and threatened plants they contained. However, he said, planning policy to protect them was limited and needed to be strengthened in the review of the national planning policy framework later this year.
“We also need to see greater support for wildflower meadows in the new farm environment schemes – it is critical that farmers are rewarded for restoring locally distinctive natural habitats where wild plants can thrive.”
Ian Dunn, the chief executive of Plantlife, said: “If you can, this coronation year, make the opportunity to sit within an area of meadow or uncut grass. Look around at the colours and variety of plants. Then close your eyes and sense your surroundings through sound and smell. You’ll be amazed, reconnected with nature and feel just fantastic.
“We know healthy habitats such as meadows form the foundations of all successful conservation, as well as being at the roots of a healthy society and in addressing the climate challenges we face. At Plantlife we aspire to create a combined area equal to 20,000 new football fields of meadows before the end of this decade to give everyone the chance of experiencing the beauty and wildlife-rich meadows that were once commonplace.”